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2023 Was A Great Year For New Reality TV Shows

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Say what you will about reality TV, but it’s here to stay. It’s a superstar genre! Since the days of The Real World, reality TV has pulled us in with new stories and formats.


For me, it’s been 23 years since watching people vote each other out on Survivor stole my 10-year-old mind’s attention. And I’ve been obsessed ever since!


With a decades-worth of TV explored, the genre isn’t slowing down yet. 2023 was a landmark year that brought us new names, new iterations, and new obsessions that filled our reality TV thirst.


Don’t believe me? Below, we looked back on the year for how the genre grew and reshaped itself. These themes brought several beloved new favorites that made 2023 one of the best years yet for new IPs (and some familiar names).


Check it out!


A Supreme Rises


After decades of reality TV, launching a new IP that attains widespread success and growth can be hard. Not everyone can reach the staying name power like Survivor, Big Brother, Love Island, etc.


You need a unique format that provides an entertaining game and lots of potential. Enter The Traitors.


The social deduction game was initially launched in 2021 in the Netherlands to massive success, and a few international versions came the following year. But in 2023, The Traitors saw its most massive growth yet!


At least 12 new international versions were launched that spread The Traitors’ brand globally.


For North American audiences, The Traitors Season 1 went live on Peacock to excellent fan interest. Thankfully, a second season renewal came quickly and with one needed change: featuring only reality TV celebrities.


And The Traitors Canada Season 1 on CTV delivered a deliciously fun and shocking season!


The Traitors has become the most significant new name on the reality TV block. And with its growing appeal, we might have a new franchise juggernaut that is here to stay. (Crossing all my fingers!)


All Around The World


Speaking of taking things internationally, a few franchises kept growing or launching. Just like The Traitors above, RuPaul’s Drag Race kicked off several new series in countries worldwide.


Drag Race Germany Season 1, Drag Race Belgique Season 1, Drag Race Brasil Season 1, Drag Race Mexico Season 1, and Drag Race Sverige Season 1 all sashayed their way onto screens to find the Next Drag Superstar. If you were craving drag queen entertainment, this was just a taste of the available content.


For a more established series, we had the return of Big Brother U.K. since it went off the air in 2018! Sure, it’s just a continuation, but the relaunch felt like a fresh take on the beloved show.


There is so much reality TV to enjoy in many places but so little time.


Embracing History


If there’s one thing a reality TV fan has, it’s their tried-and-true favorites. Even if it’s a decade later, they’ll still be rooting for their favorite former players or against their love-to-hate villains.


The reality TV genre seemed to recognize this by bringing back many familiar players to launch brand-new IPs.


In some cases, players came back to play a similar-ish type of game, like Love Island Games Season 1. Or, it was recognizable and well-established names invited to compete on a new show, like The Traitors or E!’s House of Villains Season 1.


House of Villains is one such case that did everything right to hit the ground running.


What better way to launch a new series than by focusing on the characters that bring all the drama? The villains!


Sometimes, all you need to make a hit is to rely on the power of the cast. These villains had the experience from their past shows and weren’t afraid to speak their minds and fight for screen time. This recipe spelled success, making it one of E!’s biggest launches in years.


Bringing back former players can be a hit or miss, but 2023 hit all the right notes.


A New Spin On Classic Styles


Refreshing old ideas can make something feel new and modern while still honoring the legacy of the original. (Look to The Mole for how it’s done!) This year, we found success in bringing back formats we’ve been missing for some time.


Who wasn’t excited to see Big Brother U.K. brought back after going off the air in 2018? It’s one of the big juggernauts from the international franchise and a fun show filled with plenty of personalities.


Though, the real standout in this theme was The Devil’s Plan on Netflix.


Does anyone remember the cult classic reality show The Genius? With a few tweaks and a modern update, The Devil’s Plan Season 1 captured the magic of its predecessor. We got back a format that was sorely needed!


New Face, Same Flair, More Fun


Speaking of updating formats, how about spin-offs of already popular shows? 2023 was the year of continuing momentum for successful shows but trying out a new style. It was a great way to launch new titles from established and beloved IPs.


Big fan of dating shows like The Bachelor or The Bachelorette? Go for an older, more mature dating pool on The Golden Bachelor Season 1.


Do you enjoy the relationship mess on The Ultimatum? Experience new types of relationships on The Ultimatum: Queer Love Season 1.


Miss the casts from the mainline franchise? Watch them compete again in spin-off games like Big Brother Reindeer Games Season 1 and Love Island Games Season 1.


What made this approach successful was how audiences were drawn to the spin-offs.


In some cases, like The Ultimatum: Queer Love, the season was more favorably received by critics and fans than the main show. (*Cough* The Ultimatum Season 2 *cough*.) The spin-offs brought all the interesting storylines and reminded us what we loved about the shows in the first place.


And the spin-offs could test and try things that should be added to their mainline shows.


For example, Big Brother Reindeer Games was fun because it had equitable competitions that any of their players could win, regardless of age, size, etc. Maybe Big Brother should take note and stop doing rounds that favor only extremely fit and young houseguests.


Critical Joy


One of the downsides of reality TV is the negative perception of the genre. Due to years of gimmicks and scandalous drama, many assume reality TV is nothing more than trash.


Sure, there are plenty of guilty pleasures to lose yourself in (we’ll get to this later). However, you’d be sorely wrong if you thought that reality TV is just that.


2023 saw a year of series getting the recognition they deserve as well-crafted shows.


For example, Jury Duty Season 1 had a wave of critical reception and fan interest due to how strong the season was when it came out. And it could be one worthy of award acclaim. Jury Duty has been nominated for several awards, including the Primetime Emmys.


Netflix Is On A Roll


Out of all the streamers, Netflix is pumping out the most consistent reality TV shows. They’re willing to try something to see if it’ll work, and they’ll greenlight more reality shows to their slate, both original and spin-offs.


Just in 2023 alone, Netflix has had its fair share of series, like Surviving Paradise Season 1, Perfect Match Season 1, and Bling Empire: New York Season 1, to name a few.


While some didn’t last long (so long, Bling Empire), other newbie series struck a chord with fans. We’ve got new seasons of Surviving Paradise and Perfect Match to look forward to in the coming years.


Netflix might finally be getting into a good swing with their reality line-up.


Adapting IPs


Speaking of Netflix, one of their biggest reality TV shows of 2023 came from Squid Game: The Challenge Season 1.


This series had plenty of hype, especially since Squid Game Season 1 was a massive hit for Netflix. Transforming and adapting a fictional show into a real-life reality show could become a disaster if not done right.


And yes, we must acknowledge all the behind-the-scenes drama from creating the series. The series hasn’t escaped its fair share of controversy or problems.


Though even after a bumpy run, the show’s success has shown that there is potential for this game to continue. And that carrying over a high-concept idea like Squid Game into a reality TV show format can be done.


Guilty Pleasure When You Need It


For every “serious” reality show, sometimes you need a guilty pleasure to decompress and binge. No judgments!


I was deep in VH1’s world of Flavor of Love, I Love New York, Charm School, and the other spin-offs along the way. And I have a long history of other guilty pleasure shows added to the list (and a few random ones to this day).


In 2023, the new slate of “guilty pleasure” shows seemed to own their campy and absurd formats. Most of the shows were in on the joke and knew exactly what they were creating, which made it even better. Their fans wanted all of it and more.


Just look to shows like For the Love of Dilfs Season 1 and MILF Manor Season 1, for what I mean.


Now, over to you, Fanatics!


Which new reality TV shows did you love in 2023? Were there any surprise hits that blew you away?


Are there any shows that you think should stay in 2023?


Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.



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